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Tue, May 15, 2007

Fog, Liquor Contribute To Tense Moments Onboard UAL Flight

Stranded Pax Didn't Want To Part With Duty-Free Booze

What happens when you combine dense fog, a diverted United Airlines jumbo jet with a full load of passengers, and duty-free alcohol? If you guessed a situation that could be described as a "near-riot," you'd be right, according to Australian media reports.

The Queensland Courier-Mail reports the Boeing 747, with 234 passengers onboard, was diverted from Sydney to Brisbane due to heavy fog at the destination airport.

Those passengers -- already weary from the 14-hour flight from the US -- were then told they would have to remain on the parked aircraft for another nine hours, while United searched for a flight crew that could take the plane onwards to Sydney.

If the whole affair sounded disturbingly familiar, you'd be right -- as such ordeals have become increasingly common onboard domestic US flights over the past several months, often due to similar weather delays.

Those situations were tense enough... now, add alcohol to the mix. Seems that several passengers onboard the stranded United Airlines flight didn't want to part with their duty-free alcohol if they decided to disembark in Brisbane, and leave the airport to stretch their legs a bit.

International guidelines would require those bottles to be confiscated when they passed through security once again, due to the ever-popular restrictions on liquids stored in carry-on luggage, to continue the flight onwards to Sydney.

When informed they would either have to stay on the plane, or give up their booze, "something akin to a riot occurred," an airport worker told the Courier-Mail. "Those passengers simply did not want to stay on board."

After several hours, airline workers arrived at a stopgap solution: they collected the bottles of carry-on alcohol, labelled them, and stored them in the plane's cargo hold, effectively circumventing the rule.

The passengers were then allowed to get off the plane.

FMI: www.united.com

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